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Esteemed Company

Aug 1

In News at 12:01am

Teaching photography is an act of passion, same as doing photography. You gotta throw yourself into it, because people are there to learn, and have given themselves a great gift–the time to do that learning. You have to return the gift by being a good teacher. So it’s kinda cool that I’m included in a group of wonderful, talented, shooters and educators in this current Photo District News article. Here’s a link to the PDN site.

I know it’s an accident of the alphabet, but it’s especially wonderful to be there, on the page, right next to Jay Maisel. I wrote a paper about Jay when I was in Photo-j school, calling him “the father of modern color photography,” which he is. He’s also a dear friend and mentor. And I’ve taken his workshop at the bank, so I can attest to how good a teacher he is, and how refreshingly blunt he is when assessing a picture on the screen. He handed me my ass more than once. Out there in the photography career thicket, amid the snares, traps, swamps and things that might eat you, lie treasures, unforeseen and unexpected, that make hacking your way through the aforementioned thicket year after year worth it. A friendship with someone like Jay is one of them. I’ve had the privilege of hanging with him, and teaching with him. I even coaxed him in front of the lens once.

I told him he had lost his ability to say “no pictures” long ago. So he sat for me. But when you see Jay through the viewfinder, time to make it fast, and bring your game. One SB-800, camera right, Lastolite Tri-grip diffuser. Done in about a minute or so. A favorite portrait of a dear friend.

Photogs are hard to shoot, right? They sit there in front of the camera, slyly observing and absorbing what you are doing. They know even before you do when you have the picture, or if you’ve gone off the rails. I was assigned to shoot Arnold Newman once. Talk about nervous. I had the notion of mimicking his light, by simply using the walls of his studio as bounce sources. Gulp.

Arnold was gracious to a fault, knowing full well how nervous this schmuck photog who just showed up at his legendary studio was. I got to know him a little bit, and he signed his amazing book, Americans, for me. He inscribed, “To Joe McNally, who has turned the tables on me, and quite nicely!” Geez…..that’s a keeper.

We also taught together a bit at the Eddie Adam’s workshop in upstate New York. It was an honor to do so. It’s an honor to teach. This business has a long and proud tradition of mentoring, and passing on young people. Happy to be a part of it….more tk….

cory Lum says:

on August 1, 2011 at 12:06 am

great post ! as a past (eddie’s workshop) student of yours.

many thanks JOE !
cory Lum

kyle jerichow says:

on August 1, 2011 at 12:10 am

Well, you yourself are a hell of a teacher Joe. I learned more from you in three days than I had learned from the years I had been trying to make pictures.

Kamila and I actually try to emulate your teaching style in the basic class that we teach. It is a good system.

The best of luck in St. Lucia.


Peter MacDonald says:

on August 1, 2011 at 2:13 am

One of things I would really like to do is attend one of your workshops. I have reading your blog and most of the other stuff you have publish..even seen a few videos, but I get the feeling a workshop would be something pretty special. Geography being what it is, there’s not too much chance of that…but you just never know.

Robert says:

on August 1, 2011 at 3:07 am

That picture of Jay Maisel is so impressive. I was moved.
Many thanks !

LluisGerard says:

on August 1, 2011 at 4:24 am

Congrats! Is not easy to be a good photographer and a good photography teacher at the same time.

I’m so happy to see Zack Arias too because I really learned a lot from him, he makes it very easy to understand. His blog is full of useful information and he changed the way I take photographs, taking care of what I do in camera without spending too much in post-production.

Will McGregor says:

on August 1, 2011 at 7:31 am

It would be amazing if you came to Glasgow in Scotland, for a workshop, Joe.

It would be amazing to be taught face to face although i do love your DVD and Kelby training stuff.

You picture of Jay is awesome, it just shows that the KISS way of doing things can create amazing pictures.

Did you say “you ready Jay….what is the square root of 4,000,002 ?” for his deep in thought expression ? :)

Kim says:

on August 1, 2011 at 8:07 am

Joe – I always love your posts. I like hearing you talk about Jay being refreshingly blunt and “handed me my ass” when assessing your photos. I’m an aspiring photographer and want to get my photos in front of someone who will take a hard look at them and give me some honest feedback. Then help me figure out what to do to make them better.

Advice? Do you know of good “groups” or forums online that do this well? I’ve participated in a couple before but found them to be more about post-processing and digital enhancement rather than taking good quality photos to begin with. Or should I go for good ole fashion one-on-one, find a mentor sort of thing?

Jay Mann says:

on August 1, 2011 at 9:42 am


Of course you are on this list, if you were not the best, I would not have taken 4 workshops with you. Each workshop has been fresh, educational and entertaining. I have experienced a step change in my craft after every session. Your passion and teaching ability are a gift to the photog community.


Ray says:

on August 1, 2011 at 10:57 am

As one who has attended one of your Dobbs Ferry Workshops, I can also attest to your being one of the best. Looking forward to more of your knowledge in the future.

Mike Hylandsson says:

on August 1, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Hi Joe,
I saw you in April in Minneapolis on the Flash Bus tour, it was a blast. I think you’re a great teacher, it was a ton of fun watching you “work”.

Please, come to Minneapolis again soon!! :)


PS – Nothing to do with the above… At the end of The Flash Bus’s Q&A / prize giveaway, someone else and I both shouted out that we brought a film camera. You were dead-set calling me the winner of a 600x 16Gb Lexar CF card. Thanks for that, too!!!!! Its been great to have.

PeteTsai says:

on August 1, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Having attending one of Joe’s workshops, I can’t express enough how well run and professional a workshop it is. Joe was a great character as always, guiding people to see his madness, I mean method. 😉 All the details are covered when he’s in charge and it shows, the models/mua were incredible and he spends time learning what you want to learn. His staff was extremely friendly and helpful and everything was top notch, including the catering.

Kudos again Joe, your Dobbs Ferry workshops are such a bargain for what you give!


glenn kaupert says:

on August 1, 2011 at 2:09 pm

One of my favorite quotes is from Mr. Maisel:

“See, I don’t think you gave a shit about this picture when you shot it cause you’re not making me give a shit about it now.”

Jay Maisel

Jim says:

on August 1, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Hello Joe,

I’ve only been to one of your workshops; the Flashbus tour with David Hobby. Even though it was a one day event I learned a lot and look forward to attending more. You’re an inspiration, so keep cranking out the goodness.

By the way, I can’t express how wonderful it is that you’re not “living your own legend” like some of the big name photographers. Anyone who freely admits to his own mistakes and can laugh at himself is the real deal in my book.


Louis says:

on August 1, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Hi Joe: I flew from Malaysia to spend 5.5 days with you at your workshop at Santa Fe, New Mexico. I would describe the workshop as enlightening (not pun intended), inspiring, practical and mind blowing. You managed to mixed the technical bit with humor and real life experience. Many can talk about f-stop, w-balance and power ratios but you brought it to LIFE by sharing your life and experiences with us. Very privileged to have learned from you. Till today, your approach to photography is my true north in this journey.

Dave Prelosky says:

on August 1, 2011 at 10:15 pm

As a sidebar, is there a resource anywhere that details names and workshop dates – like a guide to summer camp for grownups?

Barry says:

on August 2, 2011 at 3:27 pm


I’ve taught medicine for many years and along the way have come across many teachers. As you say, the passion and the desire to teach is a necessary starting point. But … and it’s a big but … some people have “it” and some don’t. Having been behind the podium/lectern/mic/laptop for years, and having had the pleasure of being at some of your workshops, I can sincerely say you’ve got “it” in spades.

Oh, and being a little “touched” doesn’t hurt a bit either! At least it keeps the audience on their toes wondering what’s about to come out of your mouth!

Thanks for all and hopefully to many, many more years of being able to share with the rest of us.


M. David Farrell says:

on August 3, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Newman is one of my personal favorites. I just watched an episode of a TV show focusing on the photographer and their images from the 80s- Newman looks tough and steadfast, but not forboding as he recalled stories from his career. If you dont know what I am talking about check out a recent post on the strobist blog or google arnold newman interview and hopefully you will be able to find it.

All t he best, and enjoyed the post as always Mr. McNally,


Jon Uhler says:

on August 8, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Indeed they are….

Love the shot of Jay.

Erika Plummer says:

on August 15, 2011 at 2:43 am

First I admired your books,then I had the great privilege of taking a Workshop with you (and Drew) here in Portland. I admire many photographers but those who articulate their passion well and choose to pass along with enthusiasm, kindness, honesty and humor – by teaching those of who stumble about in awe – well you’re quite simply at the top of my list!

Lorin duckman says:

on August 15, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Why only young at Edie Adams?

plant descriptions says:

on August 18, 2011 at 1:41 am

Thanks for sharing this post..

Juan says:

on August 18, 2011 at 6:53 am

Hi Joe, I was with you at the Bank for Jay’s workshop a couple of years ago. It was a great experience for me to have two great photographers to learn from at the same time. I do remember Jay giving you “feedback” on your pictures. I’ve seen your pictures with available light and they are just amazing. Thanks for sharing all your knowledge and experience with great humor.

girl games says:

on January 19, 2015 at 12:31 pm

wow, awesome blog.Thanks Again. Cool.

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